Go Plastic-Free to Reduce Waste

Plastic Free July flyer.
Plastic Free July flyer.

The NEC has once again participated in taking the pledge to go plastic-free for the month of July! Plastic Free July is a monthlong environmental movement to eliminate disposable plastic items. It began in Australia and has caught on among environmental agencies and nonprofits around the globe. Over two million people worldwide have taken the pledge this year.

The NEC staff personally took on the challenge and invited local community members, businesses, and organizations to take the pledge as well. Going completely plastic-free is a seemingly impossible task in our throwaway society, but there are many ways to participate.

Businesses adopted an “ask first” policy with their single-use disposables, which helps reduce unnecessary waste from entering the environment as well as encouraging their staff to also refuse single-use plastic. We would like to thank the businesses that participated: Zero Waste Humboldt, Cafe Brio, Arcata Co-op, Arcata Country Florist, Vista Del Mar, T’s North Cafe, Ramones, Mosgos, and Cafe Mokka.

Eight of the 10 most found items during the Northcoast Environmental Center’s 2017 Coastal Cleanup Day were plastic. The goal of Plastic Free July is to reduce the use of plastic at the source. The NEC held two beach cleanups during Plastic Free July—one sponsored by Cacti & Coconuts at Mad River Beach and the second by Zero Waste Humboldt at Samoa Power Poles Beach. The two cleanups pulled a combined estimated total of 1,000 pounds in marine debris off our beaches and out of the dunes. The top five most found items were rusted nails, cigarette butts, broken glass, plastic bottles and plastic straws.

Anyone can take steps in their daily life toward going plastic-free or zero waste, such as using reusable bags or containers when shopping, or packing meals from home instead of getting carry-out. Next time you do eat out, ask for your drink to be served without a straw and bring your own container for leftovers. There are many ways to make an impact in reducing waste—we just need to take the steps to do so.